Velma’s teenage granddaughter and foster daughter, Rebecca, struggles with scoliosis, severe back pain, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Rebecca hopes to someday become a nurse’s assistant. At age 18, she aged out of state custody and was dropped from TennCare, due to a bureaucratic oversight. During the period that Rebecca went uninsured, Velma managed to pay for her granddaughter’s ADHD medication out of pocket. But, Rebecca lost valuable physical therapy time. Velma worked with TJC to get Rebecca’s TennCare reinstated, filed an appeal for her out-of-pocket expenses, which were eventually reimbursed. Velma also worked with TJC to write a letter to the state, asking that other children not encounter the same barriers to care that Rebecca experienced. Velma said, “With TJC’s help, I was able to get Rebecca’s TennCare back. Now, she will be able to go out into the world with the insurance she needs to stay healthy.”
Irene’s three year-old grandchild, Terrell, has pulmonary hypertension, congestive heart failure, and is ventilator dependent. He needed a wheelchair, but seven months after the prescription for a wheelchair was submitted, Terrell still had not received it. Without the wheelchair, it was impossible for Irene to lift Terrell, along with his oxygen tank and ventilator, suction machine, battery, and medicines – the equipment alone weighed more than 100 pounds. Terrell was missing doctor’s appointments, and the family was getting more and more desperate.
Then, Irene called TJC. We worked with her to write a letter of appeal to the state. A few days later, Terrell was measured for his wheelchair, and soon, it arrived. Irene said, “When all this started, I didn’t know who to turn to. With TJC on my side, I was able to stand up for Terrell and get him the care that his future depends upon”
Vicie is the adoptive mother of three special needs children, including her son Trevor. Trevor can’t walk or talk, but he loves snuggling and listening to music. In 2008, his TennCare nursing was drastically reduced. So, Vicie called TJC. We wrote a letter asking TennCare to provide the nursing that Trevor’s doctor prescribed. Days later, Trevor’s care was reinstated. Vicie also asked TJC’s for help with a TennCare policy that prevented her from leaving the house while nurses were caring for the children. Vicie had to choose between taking her three wheelchair-bound children with her to the supermarket and the library, and not going at all. TJC wrote to TennCare about this violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. TennCare clarified the rule so that Vicie and other parents like her are not homebound. “TJC is a lifesaver,” said Vicie. “They really care about our family.”
Judy’s adopted son, Ladontay, age 6, loves skateboarding, coloring, and reading. However, Ladontay has cysts on his nose that make wearing regular glasses painful. Judy knew that if Ladontay’s glasses were more comfortable, he would leave them on at school and learn more easily. His doctor ordered flexible glasses, but his TennCare vision plan wouldn’t cover them. Judy called TJC for help. Together, we wrote a letter to the state. Within three days, Ladontay’s doctor was able to fill the prescription for flexible glasses. With his new glasses, Ladontay’s reading and schoolwork will improve and he will be able to participate more fully in sports. “When I contacted the Tennessee Justice Center, you steered me in the right direction. Your help was a lifesaver. I am so thankful,” said Judy. “Without TJC, I would have just taken ‘no’ for an answer. Now, I know my rights.”
Mrs. Rodriguez has been caring for her daughter, Sarah, ever since her brain was injured in a car accident. Sarah cannot walk and requires round-the-clock care, but she still enjoys watching her three children grow. After the car accident, Sarah went to a nursing home, where a blood clot went unnoticed, and almost killed her. In another nursing home, Sarah developed severe bedsores because she was not turned often enough. Afraid for her life and shaken by these close calls, Sarah’s family brought her home. Mrs. Rodriguez cares for Sarah with the help of a TennCare nurse. When Mrs. Rodriguez heard that TennCare was going to cut Sarah’s in-home nursing, she called TJC. We recruited attorneys to represent Sarah and 19 other Tennesseans hurt by the nursing cuts. For now, Sarah’s care is protected by a court order. But, Mrs. Rodriguez ‘s fight for Sarah’s care is ongoing.
Brittany’s 18-month-old twins, Addleigh and Kennedi, suffer from seizures, muscle weakness, and developmental delays. Neither Brittany nor her husband has access to health insurance through their jobs, so they rely on TennCare to cover the twins’ special needs. When Brittany heard that TennCare wad going to drop her daughters’ coverage. she appealed and called TJC. We immediately recognized that the twins were still eligible for TennCare. After a phone call to the Department of Human Services to correct the mistake, the girls’ TennCare was reinstated. Brittany also worked with TJC to write a letter to TennCare, sharing the twins’ story as well as experiences of other families. In response, TennCare implemented new training to improve the accuracy of eligibility screens. Brittany said, “The thought of losing health insurance for my girls was terrifying. TJC helped me solve a problem I thought was insurmountable, and put my mind at ease.”
Brandon – 2009 Father of the Year
Brandon became a quadriplegic in 2004, when his spine was severely injured while he was playing with his sons on a trampoline. Brandon relies on TennCare nurses and aids to stay safe and to care for his tracheotomy. Despite his disabilities, Brandon enjoys spending time with his sons and is earning a degree in Business. When TennCare’s home health policies changed, the life that Brandon had built was threatened. TennCare began requiring Tennesseans who need extensive care to make do with a dramatic reduction in nursing hours. Without constant care, Brandon would be forced to go to a nursing home, drop out of school, and leave the community where his sons live. Determined to keep his family together and to stand up for disabled parents across Tennessee, Brandon contacted TJC. With the help of TJC and attorney Linda Casals, Brandon fought his nursing cuts in Chancery Court.
2009 Community Mothers
Laurenda is the adoptive Mom of six girls, including 12 year old Karla. She needed to have open heart surgery, so Laurenda made sure that Karla made it to all of her appointments with the cardiologist, surgeon, and other doctors. When Karla went to Vanderbilt for surgery, Laurenda stayed there with her for a week. “She played games with me and even pulled me up and down the halls in a red wagon,” said Karla. “My new Mom even made a scrapbook for me of my time in the hospital so I would always know why I have scars on my chest.” Thanks to Laurenda’s dedication, Karla’s surgery was a success. Now, “You can’t tell Karla that she can’t do anything,” said Ms. Whisenhunt. “She he has confidence.” All of Laurenda’s adopted daughters have special needs, “but she always manages to take care of us,” said Karla.
Earnestine is devoted to doing everything she can to make sure her seven year-old granddaughter is as healthy and happy as possible. She and her grandmother work out together in their exercise room every day. Destiney enjoys jump roping, riding her bike, skating, and hula hooping. “I love to work out because it makes my muscles look big,” said Destiney. When Destiney needs a checkup or an immunization shot, Earnestine always takes her to her appointments. Earnestine makes sure that Destiney eats three healthy meals a day, with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Her favorite foods are peas and mandarin oranges. Earnestine also makes sure that Destiney gets plenty of sleep, brushes her teeth 3 times a day, and stays hydrated and clean. Earnestine knows that keeping kids healthy allows them to get the best start in life, so they can reach their full potential.